Sun Cities Today Blog

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Archive for the month “October, 2010”

Free…

Free…perhaps no single word has been more over used in Sun City’s history when it comes to drawing crowds. It’s like a right of passage; Sun Citian’s have come to expect shows and events to be totally free or at worst, very inexpensive. Webb built and sold Sun City on that premise. Heck, we have original ad campaigns from the 60’s with the idea of living in a resort style setting for just a “nickel a day.”

Just as an example is the photo above from 1975 when Lawrence Welk filled the Sun Bowl Amphitheatre with some 7000 strong. From its earliest beginnings, the venue brought star-studded shows to residents and potential buyers. Webb’s Las Vegas connections provided an endless pipeline of talent that helped sell the community as the perfect way to live. Obviously those coming down for the Stay and Play package always found the free shows just one more great reason to buy in Sun City (John Meeker claims better than 50% of the 27,000 Sun City homes were sold to people who took advantage of that program).

I won’t bore you with 50 years of the free shows in Sun City, suffice to say, there has been plenty of show stoppers and a fair share of clunkers along the way. While some of the more recent boomer buyers regret they haven’t seen the likes of the Rolling Stones or other like-minded aging rockers, some of the shows are being to be geared to a younger crowd.

For example, last week about 3000 folks turned out to watch/hear the Double Grande Piano’s. They were exceptional and appealed to literally all ages. This Sunday night at 5:30 pm the Chordette’s will be playing at the Sun Bowl. Obviously, it isn’t the originals (given several of them have died), but this all girl group will bring back the original’s moldie oldies with fun and flair; including Mr Sandman and My Boy Lollipop. At least for me, they have to be way better than a Lawrence Welk Tribute band (is there such a thing?).

The point is, Sun City is still going and growing strong. There’s not much better than being under the stars in gorgeous fall weather in the West Valley and in the open air theatre called the Sun Bowl. Best of all is, it’s all still FREE!

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Lawn Bowls Still Going Strong in Sun City

From the very beginning, lawn bowling has been a part of the fabric of Sun City. Word has it that Del Webb and Walt Disney were good friends. Walt was an avid lawn bowler in California and when Del told him of his “new active way of life,” he strongly recommended a green be built in the community. Oddly enough, the game almost no one knew about became extremely popular.

The first green was next to Community Center (now Oakmont) and a second followed at Town Hall (Fairway) that was built the following year (1961). The game was so popular, the players at Community Center raised funds and constructed their own clubhouse, still in use today. The Museum has a fascinating selection of photo’s showing those first bowlers on the greens and perhaps the best is the attire they wore as they enjoyed the Arizona sunshine. As you can see in the picture above, fashionable was important.

As Sun City grew, so did lawn bowls. In its hey day there was a reported 1400 bowlers in the community. At one point there were 8 greens, including one of the first artificial greens in the country. Sundial had a carpet that was extremely fast, but as it wore out, a decision was made to convert it to a Bocce court. Good choice in that bocce and the Sun City club is also a very popular sport in the community and the West Valley.

Time has taken its toll and the game is waning around the world and in Sun City. There are approximately 500 lawn bowlers currently members of the five clubs. The good news is, because of the number of greens and the quality of them, Sun City has become a retirement destination for bowlers from across North America. Hundreds of homes have been sold the past 10 years to people just because of their love of the game.

The West Valley also hosts dozens of major tournaments each year, with bowlers coming from around the world to compete. Because of the close proximity of the greens, travel to them makes for an easy commute and of course our delightful weather adds to the pleasure of their stay. It’s these kinds of amenities that makes bowlers into potential buyers. It literally can be a lawn bowling heaven.

Case in point, the US National Championships just concluded a very successful 4 day tournament. This field of 48 qualifiers from around the United States played in a round robin that ultimately determined the 2010 champions in both the men and women’s singles and pairs play. It was a great time and as always, questions were asked about the cost of homes and who can buy here.

Lawn bowls is going strong in Sun City and Sun City West (they have four greens at a beautiful complex). While numbers are down, the lawn bowling community is active, engaged and pushing to grow the sport. Best of all, being fashionable on the green, like they were in the 60’s, is starting to once again be in vogue.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s…

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Live Well, Love Often

Have you ever come across a fortune cookie in a Chinese restaurant that was so compelling you folded it up and put in your wallet or purse? Nope, this one wasn’t from a fortune cookie, but the other day while killing time in the local Tuesday Morning store i came across this wall hanging. Maybe because i’m such a simple guy, this one struck me…it was like i found the answer to all of life’s trials and tribulations.

How much better can you boil down a summary of the solution to the complexities of life than to these four words? Some have to climb to the top of the Himalaya’s to find the meaning of life while others take an eternity contemplating their naval to find any inner peace. Don’t get me wrong, i understand this whole serenity thing goes way deeper, but the essence of a life well lived starts with the basics of happiness within.

I have found the simpler we keep it, the search for peace of mind is a shorter journey. Throw in the ability to live well (translated into getting up each day and doing things we enjoy), is a great start. Add in a mixture of pure unadulterated love (defined a million different ways for a million different people) and it becomes pretty darn easy to accept life on life’s terms.

Frankly, i think that is why and how Sun City has not only survived but flourished for the past 50 years. People came here, found they could live well and love often. They did what they wanted and they loved what they were doing or who they were doing it with. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Sorry if i have made this too darn easy to be happy, but it is how i function best. Kiss.

A teachable Sunday mornings lesson from a sign hanging in a Tuesday Morning store…oh the ironies of life.

The Little Yellow Car That Won’t…

Gee whiz, golly bang, i feel like the title belongs on the cover on a children’s book, not some profanity laced diatribe on one of my worst purchases ever on Ebay. Of course i have perfect logic for being stupid, but that will never quell the comments from my wife regarding my lack of common sense.

Let’s start with a simple premise: Sun City is golf car friendly. So much so that i drive mine 95% of the time when I’m out and about. There are guestimations of upwards of 10,000 cars roaming the streets of this community. The earliest photo’s and ads from the 60’s wanted people to long for driving our winding roads hoping their 3 wheel Cushman didn’t tip over like in an old Fred Flintstone animation.

Truth be told, they didn’t really get going that fast in the old days; the only real danger was on the side of a steep slope, or forgetting to set the brake and watching it roll into the pond. Other than that, from day one, golf cars and Sun City have been synonymous. Fabulous way to live if you ask me. Heck, the closest i get to road rage is when I’m the third golf car back at one of our stop lights. Nice.

But i digress; the little yellow car is actually called a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV). I saw it on Ebay last January and made the mistake of hitting the commit to buy button. Actually i was elated when i was the winning bidder; the seller said it was “brand new” and the link to the site claimed they sold for $15,000. What a steal (ya right), i got it for a touch over $5000 and with shipping from the other side of the country, it came to just under $6000.

I won’t go into any details, suffice to say the seller lied. When it came it was a piece of junk. Beat to heck and running even worse. I thought i was protected, but the folks at Ebay were worthless. They said their automotive buyer protection covered everything but golf cars. Thanks a bunch Ebay.

I worked with the seller and he gave me back $1000 (big deal). The net was a i owned this cute little Chinese made car (called a Wildfire), that was reminiscent of that old movie called The Money Pit. It sat at a friend in the golf car repair business for near on 4 months. I got it back, drove it for a month and the brakes went out. Unfortunately i didn’t run it into a wall to stop it, but it’s back in awaiting parts that must be very, very hard to come by.

I suspect someday I’ll see it again. I do think I’m cured though (maybe not). I bought it because i think electric vehicles are perfect for Sun City and our community. Perhaps this one wasn’t right and without question, the seller was less than honorable. Worse, Ebay was of NO help.

Even with all of that said, i love tooling around Sun City in my golf car (thank goodness i kept it); it is life simplified ten fold. Every time i leave the walls i get a little nuts. It means I’m in the car and there are crazies all around me in a big hurry and going too fast. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even get my little lemon drop of a car back and be happy in it…i’m just not holding my breath.

In the interim, i’ll be thankful i found Sun City and what i consider golf car heaven (haven if you are an atheist). I can get to any of the eight courses within the walls and never even look at the car. With our shopping, dining and medical care, a golf car is all i need…i just need to remember to plug it in at night. How much easier does it get than that?

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